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Agricultural Review | December 14, 2017

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Safety earplugs for farmers from Etymotic Research

Safety earplugs for farmers from Etymotic Research

With roots in the hearing-aid industry, Etymotic Research invented insert earphones in 1984. Those 30-plus years of development went into some new safety earplugs that tested well and show improvements certain to help reduce hearing loss on North American farms.

We recently tested the ETY-Plugs and HD-Safety earplugs and earphones. Reviews were strong through a half-day of testing.

Both the reusable earplugs and earphones are designed so that farmers can stay aware or their surroundings, which is important for safety. In other words, the earplugs and earphones allow a safe amount of environmental noise through, which keeps the user safer than blocking out all sounds.

When listening to music through the earphones, this feature is perhaps most impressive.

We operated a small John Deere tractor and a medium-sized Stihl chainsaw with both styles protecting our ears and consistently forgot we were wearing the hearing protection. We could still hear everything we needed to hear, but at a sensible and safe volume. The best of both worlds.

The fit was snug, the plugs were light, and they stayed in place throughout our chores.

Standard earplugs muffle sound, as Etymotic documents. These new earplugs “use a unique acoustic construction that produces almost equal sound reduction (20 dB) at all frequencies.

“All sounds and speech remain clear, just quieter, like turning down the volume.”

Farmers accustomed to wearing the heavier headset ear protection like we previously used will have an adjustment to make, and likely will forget they’re even wearing these devices.

Hearing loss is severe and common.

As estimated by many sources over the years, potentially half of all farmers have suffered some loss of hearing.

As researchers at the University of Kentucky noted years ago, “Noise-induced hearing damage begins at an early age on the farm: almost 70 per cent of teenagers who live or work on a farm show signs of early noise-induced hearing loss.

“As the average age of farmers continues to increase, simple age-related hearing loss will add to the total number of farmers with hearing impairments.”

The ETY-Plugs retail for $13.95, while the HD-Safety earplugs and earphones sell for $64.95.

(By Bill Brown, source -

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